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Minnesota Governor Pushes for EPA Testing of Flex-Fuel Conversion Kit

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency asking it to consider using Minnesota as a site for testing XcelPlus FlexTek E-85 conversion kits. (Earlier post.)

The Governor said he wants to offer tax breaks for low and moderate income families who convert their vehicles to run on ethanol. Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN) is arranging for state leaders to meet with XcelPlus to discuss the conversion technology and bring results to the EPA.

We [Minnesota] are the largest ethanol producer. We’ve lead the nation in the ethanol issue. It would be a logical next step to lead the country in conversion.

—Congressman James Oberstar

FlexTek, distributed by XcelPlus, is a Brazilian bi-fuel converter that utilizes its own standalone CPU to enable a vehicle’s fuel system to burn ethanol (E85), gasoline, or any blend of the two fuels.

The FlexTek converter integrates into the wiring of the vehicle injection system via connectors and modifies the injection instructions for use with high-ethanol blends. The system requires manual selection of fuel mode: one position is for 60% or more gasoline; the other for 60% or more ethanol. The system now works on cars with multi-port and sequential fuel injection systems.

To prepare the car for use of E85 and help protect against corrosion, XcelPlus recommends the use of their “E85 Engine Treatment and Fuel Treatment” before running on ethanol.

The system is not yet EPA-tested or certified, and although XcelPlus’s original stance was that it does not need to be, the company is proceeding with EPA testing.

In terms of fuel economy, XcelPlus claims that the reduction in fuel economy resulting from the use of E85 may be somewhat offset by the use of the E85 Engine Preparation Kit.



Great. Get low income families to convert their vehicles so they can pay more per mile with lower gas mileage. What this preparation kit that somewhat offsets lower gas mileage. Somewhat, meaning what? Sounds like B.S. to me.

Yes I Am a Rocket Scientist

When are they going to get it? We need to stop spending money on non-sustainable technological dead-ends. Ethanol will never work for two very important reasons:

1. It has to be trucked, not sent through pipelines.

2. We simply don't have enough land-mass to support our liquid energy needs.

Corn farming lobbies are behind most of the US ethanol interest.


from 1000x1000km you can get a lot of ethanol

but the question is, which landmass can you use?

and can you recycle all fertilizier so that you get a closed cycle?

well i think its possible to find and upgrade 1000x1000 landmass and recycle the needed fertilizer ....

and why use corn, if we can use switchgrass or sugar cance or whatever


Yes let's take a 625mile x 625mile chunk of good farming land and convert it to produce nothing but fuel for vehicles because we sure don't need to eat. Let's see, how many Texas size chunks of realestate do we have in excess where we are not growing food that we could use for this purpose? Maybe we should absorb Mexico and turn it into an ethanol producing territory of the US.

Max Reid

After using 4 billion gallons of Ethanol, if gasolene prices stay at $ 3 / gallon, then guess how much the gasolene will cost if 0 gallon of Ethanol is used.

My guess is $ 3.3 and at this rate, SUV sales will decline by 50 %.

Today, Ethanol is Corn based, tomorrow it will be grass, day after tomorrow, from Sugarcane and every garbage that the Americans throw.

Conversion kits are much better, since people with smaller cars can do it, otherwise we have to buy a big gas guzzler like Suburban.

In another 31 days, we will know which way the Iran will go and which way the Oil prices will go.


Corn ethanol - stupid.
Celulosic ethanol from waste - good.

This kit - stupid as you have to switch between ethanol and gasoline. What happens when you have a tank of half and half? Jam the switch in the middle?

John Ard

Why not also offer an E85 optimize kit? Taller pistons, better injectors, new CPU, et cetera...the vehicle would only be usable in Minnesota, but how many people leave the state on a regular basis? The better fuel economy/performance would make up for the costs of practically rebuilding an old engine.


Do you mean for cars that are already flex fuel? You could do that by just using a thinner head gasget and reprograming the ecu. You would have worse performance and economy on gasoline though.

For a car that is not already flex fuel it would be a bit harder as they lack the sensors to detect what mix up fuel is being used and alter injector pulse/ignition timing etc.


Taller pistons, new injectors, new CPU? With labor you talking about a good $3000 to 5000 there. Besides, you can't just slam in taller pistons and there is a high probability you would need to have custom pistons made unless your engine is commonly used in racing.

Thinner head gasket? Head gaskets are already fairly thin and you'd be lucky to get more than a 0.05 increase in static CR that way. You could shave the head but then with interference engines you risk having pistons and valves meet. If the motor has an over head cam arrangement you just changed the valve timing if you shave the head (or use a thinner head gasket).

The "best" way would be with a piston change to higher CR pistons with proper valve reliefs...might as well get lighter pistons at the same time since you have to get them custom made. You should have lightweight forged or titanium connecting rods put in since the same labor is done anyways. Might as well balance and blueprint the entire engine. At this point you'd have more power, better fuel economy and would have paid enough money to buy a new prius and keep your current car at the same time.


Most of the flex fuel vehicles are not ohc.

If the automakers are seriouse about E85 they should tune the engines to run on it. Fitting higher comp pistons in the factory would be a hell of a lot cheaper than the aftermarket doing it.


Most of the flex fuel vehicles are not OHC right? That means that the vehicle which a conversion unit is likely to be used on is more likely to be OHC.


Erm, I don't know, I think you can use it on any vehicle. It would still be a bad idea due to the points I made earlier.


Out of curiosity - I know (well, I think) the government pays farmers subsidies to NOT grow corn to keep the prices stable or something - how much corn are they not growing and if they grew it for ethanol, how much fuel would that create? would it be significant? it'd sure be nice to get rid of those subsidies... I wish I could make a gross estimate but I'm really not qualified to do so - maybe someone else is?



Not much, they should pay them to grow switch grass instead. Four to five times the ethanol yield of corn and better for the soil.

Here in the EU our farmers get paid to grow food that just goes to waste. This prices farmers from poorer nations out of the market and increases famine.


James- I was responding to your response to my posting (unless you were not responding to that...)I had said making a thinner head gasket for an OHC engine is not a good idea for raising compression ratio to which you said most flex fuel vehicles are not OHC. Well, that does not matter since you don't need a thinner headgasket in a vehicle which is already flex-fuel since the topic is flex fuel kits for non-flex fuel vehicles and someone mentioned optimizing the engine for ethanol on their own.

John Ard

On the subject of crop subsidies:
I know of a man who plants whatever he knows won't do well this year and collects lost crop money from the government. Maybe those who have a history of "lost crops" (crooks) should be made to grow switchgrass or whatever is appropriate for the area.

Also, someone should figure how to produce ethanol from kudzu. All of central Alabama is covered in the evil vine. On a hot day the junk can grow a foot a day! And bleach won't even kill the thing!


Patrick, yeah, I get you. Flex fuel vehicles arnt optimised for E85 either. My point was that if people are seriouse about E85 why not optimise the cars for it from the factory?


I actually use the Flextek model

It really isnt a big deal. All it does is leaves your Fuel Injectors open a little longer allowing more fuel through so you arent running lean.(running lean is what causes engine problems aswell as emission issues)

I have around 4,000 miles on E85 now and havent had an problems, runs very well in fact . Ethanol is an extremly clean fuel, it will actually clean out all the sludge and dirt particles that unleaded fuel leaves in your tank and fuel lines . (so after 500 miles of driving on E85 change your oil filter)

Were talking about a fuel that's 105 octane !

Yes E85 isnt the total answer to Oil , but it is an alternative for millions of people..could be you if you choose.

That's the beauty of E85, it's an alternative to the Oil Companies unleaded TODAY.. you have the power to tell the Oil companies to take a flying leap..TODAY .. that's a pretty powerful position to be in .

As long as E85 is priced correcly the per miles isnt an Issue , you cna buy E85 in Wisconsin for $1.99 at Utica Energies Renew Stations . I jsut paid $2.23 on a trip through Missouri at BreakTime stations run by local Coompany called MFA OIl .

In my home town it's priced generally .20-.30 less a gallon. I can get it for .40-.60 leass a gallon 20 minutes away.

The real issue is keeping Oil away from the Ethanol Industry , you'll seethe highest prices at Stations that are owned by the Oil Companies .

Getting back to the vehicles, It ownly cost the Auto Manufacturers $200 to convert any vehicle on the line over to run also on E85. They dont because there is at this time only 800 stations offering e85 and even at $200 if they convereted al their vehicles each year , I think Ford for example makes roughly 4 Million vehicles each year ..multiply that by $200 and you quickly see that's an additional 800 Million dollars .
Lat I heard the US Automakers were in deep doo doo and are not going to take on another 800 million expensive when their are only 800 E85 Stations.

Thats why these conversion kits can be very useful

Look Hybrids are coming along but still 10k per vehicle, Electric cars are still far to expensive to make and own for the average person, Hydrogen is decades away. We certainly need to still work on those technolgies .

But E85 is an Option that's here NOW .. If you live in City that has an E85 station you can Today mostly free yourself from OPEC ..I've got to tell you from a personal perspective ..thats a great feeling


Pl. send me this paper.

David Virtue

Has anyone heard what the results are from the Governor's testing?


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